On January 30th, stand-up comic/actor/director/writer Louis CK surprised those subscribed to his mailing list with the debut episode of a brand new TV show. It was available to purchase on his website for $2, and it wasn’t just a pilot: there’s been an episode a week since. I would wait to write about it upon its final episode, but there’s been no indication how many there there will be and, most thrillingly, CK doesn’t seem to know either. Episode 5 ended with the caption “End of Act One” – but only God and Louis know what that means. Some episodes feel like beautifully crafted stand-alone plays, others like installments of a soap opera. Either way, free from the constraints of cable, CK has crafted one of the finest TV shows in some time, with a cast to rival any HBO production: and he did it alone.
In 2014 Louie went from a show which cared not a jot about structure or storytelling to delivering what were essentially three sprawling TV movies; ‘The Elevator’, ‘Into The Woods’ and ‘Pamela’ – which were existential, dense and often rather sombre tales. It’s easy sometimes to forget that Louie is a sitcom. CK stated though that this year he wanted to back away from such scary continuity and return to the old vignettes, and to the comedy. When it came out that we only even got a series this year because the comedian got high one night and called FX’s head honcho demanding to bring it forward, a decision he regretted the following day, it seemed we really were going back to a show that was ready to play fast and loose with its very being again. That wasn’t quite the case though.